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Idaho State News

If you’re suffering from cabin fever this winter, consider fishing for burbot in the Kootenai River

Idaho Fish & Game

Burbot fishing on the Kootenai River typically peaks in mid-Feb., so there’s no better time than now to give it a try!

Recent weather is a reminder that winter has not yet loosened its death grip on North Idaho, but there is a silver lining – fishing for burbot on the Kootenai River!

Burbot fishing in the Kootenai is most productive during the winter months as burbot prepare to spawn in Feb. and March. Unlike the summer months when burbot often hunker down in deep pools or in Kootenay Lake in British Columbia, this time of year they can often be found in shallower water or in tributaries to the river.

Below are a few tips to help improve your odds of catching a burbot if you venture out and brave the elements this winter.

  • Try fishing in the evening. Burbot and other fish often move into shallower water to feed under the cover darkness.
  • Try fishing at the mouths of tributaries or in tributaries themselves, such as Deep, Smith or Boundary creeks.

Burbot are similar to catfish, in that they cruise along the bottom of the river looking for other fish to eat. Try putting a piece of cut bait, shrimp or worm on your hook and soaking it on the bottom of the river, waiting for a burbot to latch on.

If you decide to give burbot fishing a try this year, remember to participate in the Kootenai River Angler Science Program to potentially win prizes and help us make burbot fishing even better in the years ahead. Visit this link to learn more about the program.

And another reminder, if you catch a burbot with a tag in its back, make sure to report it!

Kootenai River burbot with a tag in its back

By reporting tags, you are helping us better understand burbot catch rates, harvest rates and survival rates, which helps us improve the fishery.

If you see a tag, please report the tag number and location of where you caught the fish to Fish and Game. Reporting can be done over the phone (1-866-258-0338), online or as part of the of the Angler Science Program creel packet. 

Select tags carry a reward value of $100, so maybe this winter will be your lucky year! If you happen to land a $100 burbot, make sure to physically return the reward tag to claim your cash.

Please contact the Panhandle Regional office at (208) 769-1414 if you have any questions or would like to learn more about burbot in the Kootenai River.